American Airlines Announces Big Price & Miles Changes

It’s soon going to become even more expensive to fly on American Airlines.

This week, the company announced that it would be raising the cost of checked bags and making additional changes that would influence customers to purchase tickets from them directly if they want to continue earning frequent flyer miles.

On Tuesday, company officials said checked bags on domestic flights would increase from $30 to $35 if purchased online, and to $40 if done at the airport. Second checked bags will now cost S45 both at the airport and online, up from $40.

The last time that the Texas-based company increased bag fees was back in 2018.

Bag fees were first introduced by American Airlines in 2008, and it only cost $15 to check a bag at the time. They were instituted to help the airline overcome the rising cost of jet fuel.

Today, bag fees are used by just about every major carrier in the U.S., and they serve as a significant and steady source of revenue. In 2022 alone, American Airlines raked in $1.4 billion in bag fees, which led the industry by a far margin, according to figures available from the U.S. Transportation Department.

In addition to the increase in bag fees for domestic flights, the airline is raising them for short international flights as well, which includes destinations in the Caribbean, Mexico and Canada. The first checked bag will now cost $35 and the second one will cost $45.

Customers can generally get one bag checked for free if they are in the upper tier of the loyalty program for American Airlines, have a company-branded credit card or buy a premium class ticket.

Other carriers have also raised bag fees recently.

Last month, bag fees for most economy passengers on Alaska Airlines increased by $5 from $30 to $35 for the first checked back and from $40 to $45 for the second checked bag.

JetBlue instituted increases in February, from $35 all the way to $50.

Scott Keyes, who founded the travel site called Going, commented on the situation recently:

“Airlines tend to move in herds, so when Alaska recently announced they would be upping their bag fee to $35, there was little doubt other airlines would soon follow. It’s unlikely American will be the last.”

One thing that Keyes pointed out was how American is going to charge different bag fees based on whether customers purchase them online or do so at the airport. That’s something that other budget airlines such as Frontier and Spirit have done for a while now.

Customers who want to continue earning points in the company’s AAdvantage loyalty program will have to book travel either on American Airlines’ website, from preferred online travel agencies or through partner carriers starting May 1.

The company also said it would list who those preferred travel agencies are sometime in late April.

Corporate travelers won’t be affected at all by the loyalty program change.